Old Road to Paradise/Love Songs

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Old Road to Paradise by Margaret Widdemer
Love Songs

DENIAL[edit]

IT never would have hurt God
  To have made the world today
  So that your footsteps turned my way,
So that our two paths crossed–
  But I went wearily up and down
  The streets of the empty-painted town
And a whole day was lost!

Never your footsteps where mine trod,
  Never my words to you–
And it all would have been so simple for God,
  So slight a thing to do!

THE MASTERS[edit]

YOU have taught me laughter,
  Joyousness and light,
How the day is rosy-wild,
  Star-enthrilled the night:

Maybe God can teach me
  After you are gone
How to bear the blackened night
  And the dreadful dawn.

I SAID, "LOVE IS GONE"[edit]

I SAID, "Love is gone;
  I need bear no more
Terrible dawn
  And midnight sore
Hungering dreams
  I cannot keep
And fever-streams
  Across my sleep . . ."

And the sun went down,
  And the day burned black
Over the town
  And Love came back
And my heart was burned
  With fire and pain–
But Love had returned,
  Had returned again!

VAIN HIDING[edit]

I SAID: "I shall find peace now, for my love has never been
  Here in the little room, in the quiet place;
The walls shall not quiver around me, nor fires begin,
  And I shall forget his voice and perhaps his face
  And be still for a little space."

But the thought of my love beat wild against the silencing doors
  There in the quivering air, in the throbbing room,
Till his step strode quick and light against the echoing floors
  And the light of his voice was there for the placid gloom
  And his presence a shed perfume.

So I said: "There is no peace more, for the place can never be
  Where the thought of him cannot come, cannot burn me thro',
For the thought of his touch is my flesh, and his voice is a voice in me,
  And what is the use of all you may say or do
  When love is a part of you?"

"MARY, HELPER OF HEARTBREAK"[edit]

WELL, if the thing is over, better it is for me,
The lad was ever a rover, loving and laughing free,
Far too clever a lover not to be having still
A lass in the town and a lass by the road and a lass by the farther hill–
Love on the field and love on the path and love in the woody glen–
(Lad, will I never see you, never your face again?)

Ay, if the thing is ending now I'll be getting rest,
Saying my prayers and bending down to be stilled and blest,
Never the days are sending hope till my heart is sore
For a laugh on the path and a voice by the gate and a step on the shieling floor–
Grief on my ways and grief on my work and grief till the evening's dim–
(Lord, will I never hear it, never a sound of him?)

Sure if it's done forever, better for me that's wise,
Never the hurt, and never tears in my aching eyes,
No more the trouble ever to hide from my asking folk
Beat of my heart at click o' the latch, and throb if his name is spoke;
Never the need to hide the sighs and the flushing thoughts and the fret,
And after awhile my heart will hush and my hungering hands forget . . .
Peace on my ways, and peace in my step, and maybe my heart grown light–
(Mary, helper of heartbreak, send him to me tonight!)

INTERIM[edit]

I HAVE a little peace today,
  And I can pause and see
How life is filled with golden things
  And gracious things for me;

I can go watch the water run
  And smile to feel the air
And love the deep touch of the sun
  And know the world is fair . . .

Oh, hush, my soul, take comfort now
  And sleepy-singing lie
Till Love return to hide the sun
  And veil the earth and sky!

OTHER PEOPLE[edit]

I LOOK at all the people
  Who meet me and are gay,
And wonder have they broken hearts
  That hurt night and day?

So I am very kind to them
  Whoever they may be,
Because they may have broken hearts–
  Broken hearts, like me.

AND IF YOU CAME–[edit]

AND if you came?– Oh, I would smile
  And sit quite still to hide
My throat that something clutched the while,
  My heart that struck my side.

And you would hear my slow words fall,
  (Men do not know!) and say
"She does not love me now at all,"
  And rise and go away.

And I would watch, as quietly
  Your footsteps crossed the sill,
The whole world dying out from me . . .
  And speak on, smiling, still.

I WAS STILL A CHILD[edit]

I WAS still a child
  Till I came to you,
Child-eyes, child-heart,
  Child-lips all too true;

I went silently,
  With all-wondering eyes . . .
"She is old," they said,
  "She is grave and wise."

Came your touch that burned
  Eyes and lips and heart;
There were no more dreams
  I could spin, apart:

Now my lips are gay
  And my heart untold;
"She is young," they say . . .
  I am old– am old!

PEACE[edit]

ALL my days are clear again and gentle with forgetting,
  Mornings cool with graciousness of time passed stilly by.
Evening sweet with call of birds and lilac-rose sun-setting,
  And starshine does not hurt my heart nor night-winds make me cry.

I can tie a ribbon now, nor hope of your eyes' pleasure
  Makes its hue intolerable if you come not to see,
I can hear old music now, nor stabbing through its measure
  Come the thoughts I would not have, or tears that need not be.

All my days are placid now, as quiet children slowly
  Pacing down a leaf-locked way that has not dale or hill;
Peace again and mirth again, and dawn and even holy. . . .
  I wish I had your hands in mine, and heartbreak still!

ONE WORSE THING[edit]

LAST Spring I walked these ways, and a sharp grief walked with me,
For you had broken my heart with a light kiss, carelessly,
And I was young and was new to grief, and could think of no worse thing
Than to walk abroad with a hurting heart and be hopeless in the Spring.

But I am older now, and have lived with grief awhile,
And there's one worse thing than a hurting heart that you have to hide and smile,
For I who know what a hurt heart is, and the thing that grief can be,
I– I have broken a heart with a light kiss, carelessly!

GIVERS[edit]

MY lover kissed my lips, and his arms went round my body,
But you were kissing the lips of my soul in our own wild garden
Where the rose-colored moon shone down
Through a sevenfold garland of rainbow stars
And a river of clear golden music rippled and thrilled
      In our own place.

My lover gave me worship and faith and swift submission,
You gave me a light word, and a touch, before you went from me,
And an endless demesne where my dreams can live my whole life through
And a living heart to sing with;
There is never cause for grief or cause for laughter
That I do not run to our country of dreams to tell you,
Wrapped in your living arms among the heavenly roses,
Sure of your smile . . .
You, whose heart is a cluster of seven cold stars!
OLD WINE

IF I could lift
    My heart but high enough
    My heart could fill with love:

But ah, my heart
    Too still and heavy stays
    Too brimming with old days.

I TOOK HIS DREAMS[edit]

I TOOK his dreams from him,
  Boy-dreams of gold and red,
I gave him sorrows dim,
  White grief, instead, . . .
And for a little space
Joy in my careless face.

I took his hope away,
  Light hope, a foolish thing,
I gave him silence gray,
  Death's comforting . . .
Was it my soul that sighed,
Dead on the day he died?

CERTAINTIES[edit]

WHETHER you live by hut or throne
  Whether your feet tread stone or grass
Comes the one lad you shall never own
  Or the one lass;

Whether you've pence to spend or gold,
  Whether you've toil or time to weep,
Comes the one pain that may never be told
  And may never sleep;

Whether you weep or mock in pride,
  Whether you tell or still deny,
Comes the one scar that your heart shall hide
  Till the day you die!
WISE PEOPLE

I THINK that we are very strong and wise,
  Mocking at love and at the grief thereafter, . . .
For sometimes I forget him in your eyes
  And sometimes you forget her in my laughter.
UNFAITH

YOU hid the love in your eyes–
  How could you think I knew?
It was only a step to his comforting
  From the hurt of you.

For even a woman's eyes
  Grow tired of tears–
It was so long a way to look
  Down the naked years!

And I had rest from heartbreak
  And I had peace from pain. . . .
Why do you have the love in your eyes
  Again, again?

SONG: KIND ADIEU[edit]

GOOD-BY, my dear, good-by–
  You woke my heart to break it,
  So if another take it
Why need you turn or sigh?

New roads are soon to find
  And Heaven may well be sending
  At every highway's ending
A lass that will be kind:

Good luck, my lad– good day!
  Go singing down the year–
  But as for me, my dear,
I go another way!
LOST COUNSEL

IF you were but near me,
  O kindest and best,
I could tell you my trouble,
  And I could have rest;

You would smile and be silent,
  And then you would say
Some word that would still me
  And brighten the day–

Wisest and kindest,
  If you were but near
I could speak of my lover,
  My doubt and my fear,

You would show me my pathway–
  But what shall I do,
Wisest and kindest?
  My lover is you!

I DID NOT KNOW[edit]

I DID not know that I should miss you,
  So silver-soft your loving came,
There were no trumpets down the dawning,
  There were no leaping tides of flame . . .

Only a peace like still rain falling
  On a tired land with drought foredone,
Only a warmth like light soft-lying
  On a shut place that has not sun.

I did not know that I should miss you . . .
  I only miss you, day and night,
Stilly, as earth would miss the rainfall,
  Always, as earth would miss the light.

AN AFTERNOON[edit]

THIS was one of the dreary whiles
When a woman sits and smiles
Wishing all the talk was over,
Inward thought a weary rover . . .
But my lips smiled vividly–
Ah, the women could not see
How my hand in yours lay warm
Through wide miles of sun and storm
(Far away, dear, did you know
That I smiled to feel it so?)

And my eyes burned bright, elate,
Into theirs of drearier fate,
Seeing your eyes' lovingness
Into mine smile deep and bless
(Far away, love, did you see
On your eyes mine lovingly?)

While between the words they made,
Weary words, I think, dull-weighed,
We were talking each to each–
Why, too short for all our speech
Was the lingering afternoon,
Throbbing fast and vanished soon
(Far away, love, did you hear
All I whispered in your ear?)

And they said– I heard them say–
"What it is to be young and gay!
How she pleasured in the day!"

THE WOOD-PATH[edit]

THE little wood-path wandered

 Green and brown and gay

Up a hill and down a hill,

 Through a dew-wet way.

It slipped beneath the pine-trees

 Where the winds blew sweet,

Past goldenrod and feverfew

 And fields of whispering wheat;

So far and wide it wandered,

 So many a dusk-sweet way,

I thought the little wood-path

 Was guiding me astray–

But oh, the little wood-path

 It knew, it was wise,

It led me to your waiting arms,

 To your lips, your eyes!</poem>

WARNING[edit]

AS long as you never marry me, and I never marry you,
There's nothing on earth that we cannot say and nothing we cannot do–
The flames lift up from our blowing hair, the leaves flash under our feet
When once in a year or a score of years our hands and our laughters meet!

For east and west through a sorry world we pass with our joy to sell,
And they that buy of our song and jest they praise us that we do well,
But few can sell us the mirth they buy, and few be that know a song,
And for all of the praise of the kindly folk, their speeches are over-long!

But two of a trade, one always hears, might get in each other's way,
And you might be wanting to sing, God wot, when I desired to play,
(Oh, it's rather a danger with folks like us and our sparks that are flying free)
But I never, never must marry you, and you never must marry me!

Now when we take breath from songs at last, to be what the rest call dead,
They'll sigh, "Ah, noble the songs they made, and noble the jests they said!"
And they will inscribe on our monuments regret that our day is done–
But we will be off in an excellent place, and having most excellent fun–

Oh, very proud from a golden cloud you'll stride in your crown and wings,
Till you hear my little earthly giggle behind my gold harpstrings;
And you'll toss your gilt theorbo down on the nearest star or moon,
And carry me off on a comet's back for long, wild afternoon;

And while we're lashing the comet up till it misses St. Michael's Way,
And laugh to think how the seraphs blink, and what the good saints will say,
We'll heave a little sigh of content– or a wistful one, maybe–
To know that I never can marry you, and you never can marry me!